The Saga of “Yukon” Cameron, or How to Fix a Broken Telephone Part II


In Part I of The Saga of “Yukon” Cameron, I told you about taking on the task of finding a client’s ancestor. This client remembered his ancestor’s name as “Yukon” Cameron. I also detailed the assumptions I made, based on the family lore my client outlined, that would guide my research plan. In this installment, I’ll tell you about the research outline I put together and how that turned out for me.

My Research Outline

I started with a very basic initial research plan outline :

1. Do a Google search for “Yukon Cameron”.

2. Do a Google search for the old television show, “Gold Trails and Ghost Towns”, and try to locate an episode guide. If found, look for the video to watch and learn more.

3. Search the web for any mention of a mansion in Cornwall, Ontario, for a mansion that became a boy’s school.

Although I did find an episode guide for the TV show, there was no mention in the listings of a “Yukon” Cameron, or anyone at all with the last name of Cameron. YouTube has a number of videos from the show, as well as other videos about the gold rush in BC, but I would have had to watch, literally, hours and hours of video in the vague hope that I would find the episode my client had watched; not a very productive avenue.

After Google largely failed me in the search for “Yukon” Cameron, my next step was to begin educating myself about the Klondike Gold Rush, a subject I knew almost nothing about other than that it took place in the Yukon, Dawson and Whitehorse were somehow involved, and the historical time period was the 1890s.

My memory was more or less true. The Klondike Gold Rush took place during the years 1897-1899. Dawson and Whitehorse were important centres in the day. There are tons of interesting websites, books, TV shows and movies about the Klondike Gold Rush. Nowhere did I find a mention of anyone named “Yukon” Cameron among the many resources listed in the search returns. I was starting to think that my client must have exaggerated his ancestor’s accomplishments. I was so wrong.

My Eureka Moment

One of my favourite parts of researching family history is that Eureka moment. You know that feeling. It’s when you’re struggling with some problem without much success, then suddenly the solution reveals itself. In a moment, everything becomes so obvious. That number 3 in my plan yielded the most amazing results came as a complete surprise to me. That was my Eureka moment.

As I mentioned earlier, part of my plan was to look for any references online that cited a mansion that became a boy’s school. Or a boy’s school that was once a private mansion. I had just googled search terms like “mansion”, “Cameron”, “school”, “Cornwall”, together after numerous fruitless attempts to locate information about “Yukon Cameron”. And then, something amazing happened. In one of the search returns, I spotted the text “John ‘Cariboo’ Cameron’. Not Yukon, but Cariboo. I clicked on the link and found a transcription of a historical plaque located, not in Cornwall, Ontario, but in Summerstown, Ontario, a few miles east of Cornwall.

The plaque transcription read:

“CARIBOO” CAMERON 1820 -1888
Born in this township, John Angus “Cariboo” Cameron married Margaret Sophia Groves in 1860. Accompanied by his wife and daughter, he went to British Columbia in 1862 to prospect in the Cariboo gold fields. That year at Williams Creek he struck a rich gold deposit. While there his wife died of typhoid fever and, in order to fulfill her dying wish to be buried at home, he transported her body in an alcohol-filled coffin some 8,600 miles by sea via the Isthmus of Panama to Cornwall. She is buried in the nearby Salem Church cemetery. Cameron built this house, “Fairfield”, in 1865, and in 1886 returned to the B.C. gold fields. He is buried near Barkerville, B.C.
Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario

I almost jumped out of my chair with excitement. OMG! My client would be thrilled! Almost every other detail except the nickname fit my client’s remembered family lore. His relative wasn’t “Yukon” Cameron, but “Cariboo” Cameron. I had to resist the urge to contact my client to tell him I had found his ancestor, because I knew I had more work to do. I needed to know more about “Cariboo Cameron”. And I wanted to know as badly as my client did…

End of Part II

Coming up in the next installment of The Saga of “Yukon” Cameron, or How to Fix a Broken Telephone: “My new research plan”.

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